German dioxin scare eases

10th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany said Monday that the number of farms banned from selling due to fears of dioxin poisoning would fall sharply in the coming days, as the government looked to ensure no repeat of the scare.

Germany banned 4,700 of its 375,000 farms last week from selling their products but 3,000 were given the all-clear on Sunday, leaving 1,635 still subject to restrictions, an agriculture ministry spokesman said.

"The authorities expect this trend to continue and for the number of farms closed to fall significantly in the coming days," Holger Eichele told a regular government briefing.

"However, no (complete) all-clear can be given until all test results are on the table."

Police last week raided a north German firm suspected of knowingly supplying up to 3,000 tonnes of fatty acids meant for industrial use with high levels of potentially carcinogenic dioxins to some 25 animal feed makers.

These 25 companies then delivered reportedly up to 150,000 tonnes of contaminated feed to thousands of farms -- mostly those producing eggs and rearing poultry and pigs -- across large parts of Germany.

The government has said there is no risk to public health.

Around 100,000 eggs were destroyed and farms banned from selling their products, as South Korea suspended imports of German pork and Slovakia halted sales of German eggs and poultry meat.

The European Commission has called export restrictions "out of proportion".

"We are in talks with (South) Korea in order to convince the authorities there of the effectiveness of the measures. We are making clear that at no point did German exports pose any health risk," Eichele said.

German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner has vowed to crack down hard on those behind the contamination and was due later Monday to meet with feed suppliers and farmers' associations to discuss the way forward.

The animal feed industry must not only "contribute actively to clearing up what happened, but also put concrete proposals on the table on how to avoid cases like this in future," Aigner told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.

© 2011 AFP

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